Last Wednesday, five Iranian boats belonging to the Islamic revolutionary guard Corps, tried to capture in the Persian Gulf, the British oil tanker British Heritage. According to CNN, when the British tanker came from the Persian Gulf and was part of the district of the Strait of Hormuz was approached by the Iranian boat and demanded to change course.
In response accompanying the ship the Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose have brought guns on boats of the IRGC and urged them to retreat.
Noteworthy is the fact that this incident occurred a week after the British in the Strait of Gibraltar seized Iranian oil tanker, EN route to Syria. Apparently, the Persians tried to answer, but stumbled on uncovered English guns…
It seems that years of war in Syria threatens to buy a new, more dangerous quality. Western allies in the fight against Bashar al-Assad move to the new strategy. Fighting vehicles of the Syrian military, engage the militants in the North of the country in the coming months have to stop because of the complete lack of fuel. From the point of view of the US and its allies to do so as soon as possible to block the supply routes of oil and oil products in this country.
In fact, such routes remained only two: from Iran and Russia. And the capture of Gibraltar by British special forces on 4 July 2019 which went under the Panamanian flag 1 Grace supertanker loaded with crude oil to Syria, is only the first step in this very risky path.
Moreover. It is possible that soon the Americans will try to do the same with oil the courts of the Russian Federation, which through the Straits is also very actively driven to Syria crude oil, gasoline and diesel fuel from our Novorossiysk. Including — and for our aviation group at the Russian military base Hamim and permanent operative connection of the Russian Navy in Tartus. Because the Pentagon is sure: a large part of this fuel and fall to Assad fighters.
Be assured: if in the Mediterranean the ships of the 6th fleet of the U.S. Navy and its allies really dare to Board at least and a Russian tanker in the Mediterranean sea will not find anyone.
Approximately so in the article, recently published by the American publication Bloomberg, says Julian Lee, in the recent past, a senior analyst at the Center for global energy studies the United States. He, in particular, writes: “the Syrian government has two other major oil — Iran and Russia. Since the routes for the first, obviously, closed, may have to turn to the second. This is a new a number of potential risks. To seize Iranian ships in the Strait of Gibraltar is one. Stop Russian vessel in the Aegean sea — is another matter”.
In fact (according to Bloomberg) from the point of view of logistics channels for receiving fuel from foreign markets to Damascus for today look like this. By land the — of a bummer. Here is what this says about Julian Lee: “the Allies control most of the oil territory in Syria, while the us forces saddled up a big part of the transitions from Iraq to Syria that could be used to create a land route for Iranian products.”
According to the existing regional pipelines to the Syrians also did not get a ton. The owners of the SUMED pipeline passing through the land of Egypt and connects the Red and Mediterranean seas, to supply the Assad regime from sanctions refused. Naturally, the more similar it is impossible for parallel pipeline Eilat-Ashkelon through Israel.
For Assad there is only one “way of life” — sea transport. From the main supplier to this country — Iran — a route shorter than the all — around Arabian Peninsula across the Red sea and the Suez canal. It is only about 4100 miles. That before was quite reasonable for Damascus and Tehran. In the period from 2016 to 2018 on this route every day in Syria from the Persians arrived about 50 thousand barrels of oil, which the world is rightly called the “blood” of any war.
To delivery was smooth, Assad even sent in the actual management of Iran its most important Mediterranean port of Baniyas, located just in the middle between Hamim and the Russian bases of Tartus.
However, besides interesting the Persians are not only located in this refinery, instantly turned into a strategic asset for Damascus. It has long been talk that the Persians intend to deploy in this city own naval base. The first in the Mediterranean. Together with standing near the Russian warships and planes from there to create a more powerful rocket opposed to the 6th fleet of the U.S. Navy.
Of course, the Americans are not going behind all this without a murmur to watch. First, all vessels seen in the transport of crude oil to Syria through the Suez canal, was included in the sanctions list of the office for foreign assets control of the U.S. Treasury Department. As a consequence, in November last year, the Iranian Suezmax tanker Sea Shark, loaded to the brim with oil to the port of Baniyas, habitually passed the Red sea and requested permission to pass through the Suez to the Mediterranean. However, obedient to the West, the Egyptians gave the crew the boot.
Further (according to Bloomberg) the tanker at anchor stood the Egyptian coast, not more nor less — five months. In April 2019, he again made an attempt to pass the channel, but was again ruthlessly deployed to Cairo.
So a couple months ago before reliable petrol “lifeline” for Assad died quietly. That certainly had a devastating impact on the outcome of the operations of the Syrian troops in Idlib against the remnants of banditry Islamist radicals.
What was left Damascus and Tehran? To Torit for new oil streams, though terribly wasteful path around Africa. Because from the Persian Gulf around Africa to Syria — 14 500 miles. Against recall, 4100 miles through the Suez canal. In other words, the route is lengthened more than three times. But the other way the allies simply did not exist.
Here is the first via Gibraltar on a long road trip in early summer and were equipped supertanker Grace 1, detained by British special forces in Gibraltar on 4 July. The importance of this operation for the London and Washington is evidenced by the fact that long before the approach to Gibraltar for the Iranian vessel was following a large intelligence ship HMS Echo Navy of Her Majesty. At the entrance from the Atlantic into the Mediterranean sea with his Board raised the helicopter with a well-armed Marines, who quickly took an absolutely civil Grace 1 under control. And instead of Baniyas escorted it closer to European courts.
Then followed cheers from official Washington. And the real hysteria in Tehran. Iran has threatened in response with force of arms to seize in the ocean something British. London reacted to this very seriously. Private tankers in the Persian Gulf, the Royal Navy is now escorting destroyers and frigates.
In short — the situation in a very dynamic development. But the bottom line is one fuel the noose around Assad and his army tighter What would you do to Damascus without Iranian oil?
It seems that supplies from Russia are the only real way out. Not necessarily the official government of Syria, not to tease the West. It is possible — under the guise of the logistics of our military bases in Hamim and Tartus. How to check where there will pass the trucks and rail cars?
Naturally, the opportunity in the US, at least, discuss. And then discuss the degree of risk in an attempt to stop Russian tanker coming into the Mediterranean sea from Novorossiysk. Is it possible at least one of them to do the same as with the Iranian Grace 1?
I would not move to reject this possibility. That’s seven years ago — June 19, 2012 — off the coast of Scotland by the same British were already arrested cargo ship “Alaid”, EN route from Kaliningrad to Syria. The reason for the detention was the message of British intelligence about the ship carrying repaired Mi-25 for the army of Bashar al-Assad.
Our opponents in the West acted simply but perfectly legally: insurance company Standard Club for formal reasons, withdrew the insurance of the vessel, which made its entry into international ports illegal. We had our “the Alaid” is not empty-handed to return to Murmansk.
In fact, to ensure that Moscow since the beginning of our operation in Syria a single day does not exclude the possibility of interception of Russian ships NATO ships should recall some details of the famous “Syrian Express”.
In 2015 and later it was based almost exclusively on large amphibious ships (BDK) of the Russian Navy, which had to pull the Middle East from all fleets. And why? Because in peacetime, the armed seizure of the military ship others practically mean a Declaration of war. While the power to intercept a civilian ship for different offences is a common practice all over the world. For the violation of international sanctions — including.
Point our guide to the “Syrian Express” work smoothly? Was hastily bought and renovated the rusty Turkish freighters and one former “Ukrainian” (“Georgy Agafonov”). Which instantly got quite Russian names “Dvinitsa-50”, “Kyzyl-60”, “Vologda-50”, “Kazan-60” etc. But the main thing — each was raised Andreevsky flag of the Russian auxiliary fleet. Despite the lack of weapons and an entirely civilian crews, that made them part of the Russian Navy. And guaranteed free passage to Syria.
Since today we are talking specifically about the supply of oil and oil products from Russia to Syria — it is absolutely clear that the American 6th fleet for any price will not stop the tankers of the black sea fleet — “Ivan Bubnov”, “Imam”, “Koidu”, “don” and others. However, not all of them on the go. And the rest may not be enough to support a protracted war in Syria. Then this business will have to raise and civilian mariners. Here is their something and can Americans to be put on hold at the exit of the Dardanelles.
In this case, the experience of the “Syrian Express” can we really be useful. Part of the tankers to the Ministry of defence will have to buy extra from the usual shipping companies. Our and foreign. And immediately decorate their masts St. Andrew’s flag. As amulets against all kinds of hardships on the way to Syria.
Eyes States fuel tighten the noose around the neck of Assad does not, in my opinion, to delay such purchases.
In the meantime
Russia concerned about the situation in the Strait of Hormuz, as the risk of direct confrontation with Iran has increased. This statement was made by Deputy Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Ryabkov, reports TASS.
“The situation is very alarming. We are convinced that, in fact, the risks of a direct confrontation for the last time it got so bad that to predict future developments more difficult. The reason is clear, focused line of Washington to the aggravation,” — said the diplomat.
He stressed that the rally of Britain for the arrest of Iranian vessel in Gibraltar “outrageous.”
Meanwhile, the Egyptian special forces, according to OilPrice, citing the Arab news portal Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, captured in the Suez canal, and even the Ukrainian tanker, which was carrying Iranian oil.